“Poor fellow,” said Henri, “I understand it all, except about the bridge of Saumur; from the time when I found him in his wretched chamber, to the moment of his death, he was talking of that, and connecting your name, Charles, with everything he said; I do not at all know what was in his thoughts, but something connected with the bridge of Saumur was either a great trouble to him, or a great triumph.”
And then de Lescure told him what had happened; how the poor fellow’s heart had failed him, at the moment when courage was so necessary; how he had feared to advance at the decisive moment, and had shrunk back, appalled, conquered, and disgraced. Henri now understood why de Lescure had not allowed Denot to be chosen at Saumur, as one of the twelve leaders of the army; why he had subsequently so generally distrusted him; and expressed so little surprise of the conduct of which he had been guilty at Durbelliere.
“His history,” said de Lescure, “gives us a singular insight into the intricacies of a man’s character; Adolphe was not naturally a coward, for madness aggravates the foibles of our nature, and no one can have shown himself more capable of gallantry than he did yesterday; but he wanted that sustained courage which is only given by principle, and trust in God. May He forgive his sins, mercifully remembering his infirmities!”
Some time after this, preparations were made for the marriage of Henri and Marie—such preparations as the time and place allowed. There was now neither inclination nor opportunity for a fete, such as would have graced the nuptials of Marie de Lescure at a happier time; she now neither desired, nor could have endured it. Father Jerome had promised to perform the ceremony; Agatha would be her bridesmaid; and her brother and her father-in-law, both on their sick couches, would be her wedding-guests. Still she was happy and cheerful; she loved Henri Larochejaquelin with her whole heart, the more probably on account of the dangers through which they had already passed together, and she had firmly resolved to endure, without complaining, those which were still before them.
Two days before the ceremony was to take place, Chapeau came up to his master, as they were together leaving the quarters of some of the troops, and with a very serious face, begged permission to speak to him. Now, as it usually happened that Chapeau passed a considerable portion of the day talking to his master in a most unconstrained way, on every conceivable subject, Henri felt sure that something very much out of the common way was going to be said; however, he at once gave the desired permission.
“And Monsieur is positively going to be married on Wednesday morning?” commenced Chapeau.
“Why you know as well as myself that I am,” said Henri.
“Oh, of course, yes—of course I know it, as Monsieur has been condescending enough to tell me; and will Madame, that is Mademoiselle as she is at present, go with Monsieur to Granville.”